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What’s New in IDEA 2016 Teaching Methods
November 9, 2015
By Dan Li  One of the strengths of IDEA Diagnostic Feedback is to provide formative feedback on teaching methods, performance of which can improve student learning on relevant objectives. In other words, instructors can receive tailored suggestions on which teaching methods they should retain or strengthen, depending on learning objectives they emphasized in the course and their performance of related teaching methods. In response to the addition of new learning objectives and feedback from users and experts, the revised instrument includes the following new teaching methods. Our analyses of IDEA 2016 pilot data have demonstrated that the new methods are important for explaining student progress on the new and/or existing objectives.
  • Helped students to interpret subject matter from diverse perspectives (e.g., different cultures, religions, genders, political views) (diverse perspectives)
  • Created opportunities for students to apply course content outside the classroom (service learning)
  • Encouraged students to reflect on and evaluate what they have learned (self-reflection)
The existing instrument includes two items on feedback (Explained the reasons for criticisms of students’ academic performance and Provided timely and frequent feedback on tests, reports, projects, etc. to help students improve). We replaced them with a more concise item that better describes the essence of quality feedback: Provided meaningful feedback on students’ academic performance. Minor revisions were made to two existing teaching methods to improve clarity. We removed the quotation marks and the word "discussion" from Teaching Method 5. The revised item--Formed teams or groups to facilitate learning--addresses collaborative learning more inclusively. For those who were always wondering what data banks in Teaching Method 9 are, we replaced the term with something that is much more friendly to the digital generation. Encouraged students to use multiple resources (e.g. Internet, library holdings, outside experts) to improve understanding is the up-to-date item focusing on information literacy. Since we aim to provide effective suggestions so that instructors’ targeted efforts can maximize the benefits they and their students will receive, we have been very selective when deciding which teaching methods to retain. Our analyses suggested that compared with other teaching methods in IDEA 2016, three items exhibited minimal importance of being predictors for progress on any of the learning objectives. Therefore, the following items are no longer included in IDEA 2016.
  • Displayed a personal interest in students and their learning
  • Scheduled course work (class activities, tests, projects) in ways that encouraged students to stay up-to-date in their work
  • Gave tests, projects, etc. that covered the most important points of the course
It is worth noting that the absence of the three teaching methods does not invalidate their effectiveness in improving teaching and learning. Nor do we suggest they not be practiced. The items can always be included as additional questions for those who wish to track how they are carried out by instructors. As we believe teaching improvement involves continuing efforts, we strive to help instructors by directing their exertions to where more can be achieved.
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